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Living in an incredibly divided country, where people hold opinions about how life should be lived that are so strong they won’t hesitate to cut ties with another person for holding an opposing view, I’ve been thinking about the role public messaging plays in the public’s decision-making. Certainly, the reasoning behind an individual’s decision-making stems from a combination of factors, including their personal wants and needs, the desire to fit in socially by doing what they believe will make them the most accepted by their peers, and what people in their inner social circle are doing and advising them to do. But what weight do messages from authority figures even carry these days? We’re living in a time when trust of authority has been eroded, and when people who don’t want to believe what an authority figure tells them can easily find something on the internet that “supports” their false view and believe that as reality instead.

Public messaging can work when it’s clear and unwavering, or has been enacted and upheld as law. For instance, I remember the “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign having a strong presence in classrooms when I was in elementary school. I don’t remember anyone questioning the message of “don’t do drugs,” and my generation seemed to grow up with, at the very least, a sense of caution when it came to illegal drugs. Jumping ahead to a present-day example, if an individual is in massive debt and tries to get a loan, they’ll likely be denied as a result of policies in place at the lender, effectively being saved from ruining their financial life further thanks to established rules and regulations.

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Natasha Chilingerian

Natasha Chilingerian has been immersed in the credit union industry for over a decade. She first joined CU Times in 2011 as a freelance writer, and following a two-year hiatus from 2013-2015, during which time she served as a communications specialist for Xceed Financial Credit Union (now Kinecta Federal Credit Union), she re-joined the CU Times team full-time as managing editor. She was promoted to executive editor in 2019. In the earlier days of her career, Chilingerian focused on news and lifestyle journalism, serving as a writer and editor for numerous regional publications in Oregon, Louisiana, South Carolina and the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition, she holds experience in marketing copywriting for companies in the finance and technology space. At CU Times, she covers People and Community news, cybersecurity, fintech partnerships, marketing, workplace culture, leadership, DEI, branch strategies, digital banking and more. She currently works remotely and splits her time between Southern California and Portland, Ore.

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